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  • In this class, we’ll read The Waves in its entirety, along with a selection of Woolf’s shorter works and a cadre of critical and philosophical supplements. Some of the questions that will preoccupy us will include these: What was Woolf trying to understand about the operations of consciousness or the ends of the novel? How does her experiment in fiction work and what are its effects? What does it mean to write fiction without characters? What do we mean when we call Woolf’s language poetic? How does her work mix genres—or invent them? How is The Waves a document of modernity and of modernist fiction? And what does it mean to read Virginia Woolf right now?
  • Markets have long existed, but market society is something radically new. So argues the economist and sociologist Karl Polanyi in his most famous work, The Great Transformation. So thorough was the triumph of market logic, and so devastating its dislocations, that without countermeasures, Polanyi argues, “human society would have been annihilated.” What are the origins of market society—i.e., capitalism? And, what can The Great Transformation teach us about not only the nature of market society (and its apparent tendency to crisis), but also the collective and subjective experience of living within it?
  • Kant’s publication of the Critique of Pure Reason was a seismic event in the history of western philosophy, whose effects continue to be felt today. Enacting a “Copernican Revolution” in philosophy, Kant subjected reason itself to critique—attempting to answer the question: how do we know things at all? Initiating what Kant calls “transcendental” philosophy, the first Critique amounts to a kind of autobiography of human reason and its maturation into self-knowledge. As Kant says, “What can we know? What should we do? What can we hope for?”—Kant attempts to answer a still more fundamental one, “What is a human being?”
  • How far along are we in the process of developing vaccines and treatments against COVID-19? Given the current state of research and medicine, how must we act in the days, weeks, and months to come? In this course, we will review the molecular virology of coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2 in particular. We’ll review the various COVID-19 diagnostic tests and the information each provides. We will discuss the epidemiology of pandemics and the much discussed concept of ‘herd immunity.’ Finally, we will track ongoing research into treatments and vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 and think through the ethics of clinical trials in the time of a deadly pandemic.
  • Harway’s work raises many questions about the functioning of scientific discovery and labor in the technology-obsessed post-WWII era. While Haraway is most famously associated with Cyborg Theory, this course will offer students an opportunity to survey the full scope of her oeuvre, including works that draw on Marxist feminist theory, philosophy of science, and multispecies concerns. Do new technologies bring with them the promise of utopia, or new nightmares of capitalist speculation and accelerating exploitation of already vulnerable people and species?

THE BROOKLYN INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH is an interdisciplinary teaching and research institute that offers critical, community-based education in the humanities and social sciences. Working in partnership with local businesses and cultural organizations, we integrate rigorous but accessible scholarly study with the everyday lives of working adults and re-imagine scholarship for the 21st century.

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